It’s That Time Again – Birthday Cupcakes!

My boyfriend Adam loves cupcakes.  This is nothing earth-shattering – a lot of people love cupcakes.  It is, however, convenient that he’s dating ME, because I for one love to bake cupcakes.  We’re closing in on his birthday, for which he has requested that I bake him – surprise surprise – cupcakes, but I haven’t decided yet exactly what kind to make.  He loves peanut butter more than most other things on this earth – maybe more than anything besides me – so I may go that route, but I’ve still got a couple of days to decide.

But I thought in the interim I’d revisit the cupcakes I made for him last year.  It may be not as much as he loves peanut butter, but he loves bourbon.  He’s not a big drinker, but bourbon is his liquor of choice, so I found a recipe on a blog last year that inspired me to make him Chocolate-Bourbon Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting.  The result was unbelievable.  So so delicious.  We were only a month into our relationship at that point, and I think he figured he’d hit the jackpot with me.

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The recipe that inspired me came from alisoneats.com, who in turn had adapted her recipe from one on Smitten Kitchen for Chocolate-Stout Cake, but it was Alison’s recipe I used, with a few tweaks.  She made her own caramel to swirl into the frosting, a la Ina Garten, but I was lazy and running out of time, and used jarred caramel sauce (like Smucker’s) from the ice cream topping section of the grocery store.  I don’t think I sacrificed any flavor whatsoever, and the frosting certainly tasted homemade.

Also, yes, warning, there is a lot of butter in these cupcakes.  Not a low-fat treat.  Definitely an indulge-yourself-on-your-birthday treat though!

Chocolate Bourbon Cupcakes (adapted from alisoneats.com)

1 cup bourbon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two muffin pans with paper liners.

Bring the bourbon and butter to a simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add bourbon-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.

Fill cupcake liners ¾ full and bake 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Caramel Frosting

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup caramel sauce

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter. Beat in the confectioners sugar and vanilla. Mix in the caramel sauce. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and use remaining caramel to drizzle on top.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt if you like – I didn’t, but it could add a nice extra dimension of flavor and some texture!

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